Family Matters: Age Appropriate Chores for Children

Published on Wednesday, 4 January 2017 17:59 - Written by JENNIFER FLANDERS

Studies show that people who were required to do chores as children tend to be more successful in life than those who weren’t. That’s the philosophical reason my husband and I have taught our kids to do stuff like loading dishwashers and folding laundry and making beds.

The practical reason we stress such skills is because we know that 12 children are capable of making far more messes than any one mother can clean up on her own. If we hadn’t insisted the kids to pitch in and do their part, I might have dug myself into an early grave by now.

Some chores, like keeping their rooms tidy, are lifelong tasks – at least, they’ll last as long as our kids still live at home. Other tasks, such as setting the table, sweeping the floor, or wiping down counter tops, our family rotates on a yearly basis. That means by the time January rolls around, everyone has (theoretically) gotten very good at last year’s assignment and is eager to move on to something new.

Children are all different, but most are capable of doing far more than is required of them. If you’ve never given much thought to assigning chores, here’s a list of age-appropriate ideas to get you started. Your kids can thank me later.

AGES 2-3

• Put toys in toy box

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• Stack books on shelf

• Put dirty clothes in hamper

• Throw trash away

• Fold washcloths

• Set the table

• Fetch diapers and wipes

• Dust baseboards

AGES 4-5

• Feed pets

• Wipe up spills

• Make the bed

• Straighten bedroom

• Water houseplants

• Sort clean silverware

• Prepare simple snacks

• Use hand-held vacuum

• Clear kitchen table

• Dry and put away dishes

• Disinfect doorknobs

AGES 6-7

• Gather trash

• Fold towels

• Dust mop floors

• Empty dishwasher

• Match clean socks• Weed garden

• Rake leaves

• Peel potatoes or carrots

• Make salad

• Replace toilet paper roll

AGES 8-9

• Load dishwasher

• Change light bulbs

• Wash laundry

• Hang/fold clean clothes

• Dust furniture

• Put groceries away

• Scramble eggs

• Bake cookies

• Walk dogs

• Sweep porches

• Wipe off table

AGES 10-11

• Clean bathrooms

• Vacuum rugs

• Clean countertops

• Deep clean kitchen

• Prepare simple meals

• Mow lawn

• Bring in mail

• Do simple mending

• Sweep out garage

AGES 12 AND UP

• Mop floors

• Wash/vacuum car

• Trim hedges

• Paint walls

• Shop for groceries with a list

• Cook complete dinner

• Bake bread or cake

• Do simple home repairs

• Wash windows

• Iron clothes

Keep in mind that teaching your child to do any new task initially may take more time than just doing the chore yourself. Some kids will need more supervision than others, over a longer period of time, before they can complete the work up to standard. Try to be an encourager rather than a drill sergeant while you are training your children to do their work and to do it well. Also remember that working side-by-side - or at least in the same corner of the house or yard - is good for camaraderie and morale, as is putting on some lively music to work by.

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Jennifer Flanders is not a natural delegator, but has learned by experience that everyone benefits when she doesn’t try to do everything herself. You can find a pretty printable version of this chore chart at http://www.flandersfamily.info/web/age-appropriate-chores-for-children/